Moeen Ali took six wickets as England beat South Africa A.

Moeen Ali will be free and easy after impressing in England warm-up win

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Moeen Ali has promised to play with freedom against South Africa, after a confidence-boosting end to England's Test warm-ups.

Moeen made his first significant contribution of the trip on the final morning against South Africa A, spinning his way to figures of six for 77 as the hosts suffered an innings-and-91-run defeat in Pietermaritzburg.

Moeen's spell completed a highly satisfactory workout for the tourists, who easily bested a side packed with Test hopefuls.

England will once again deploy the Worcestershire all-rounder as a number eight batsman and senior spinner against the Proteas, with the experiment of using him as a makeshift opener having been hastily ditched.

Moeen had been eager to climb the batting order but, with a top score of 35 in six innings against Pakistan, admits he is now excited about reclaiming his old role.

"I can't wait, I'm actually looking forward to going back to eight and playing a few shots, hopefully freeing up," he said.

"Obviously opening didn't work. I enjoyed it and it was a really good experience but I didn't score the runs I'd have liked.

"I probably got caught in two minds at times whether to attack or not but things like that happen. I'm happy and I don't mind where I bat, I'll just look to do my job wherever I bat."

Moeen, of course, has an equally important job to do with the ball.

There has been plenty of talk about the importance of pace bowlers in South Africa, where wickets early on are a must, but when England last toured these parts Graeme Swann was their top wicket-taker.

That probably says more about Swann's rare quality than anything else, but Moeen proved his value again as half a dozen South Africa A batsmen, including full internationals Quinton De Kock and Rilee Rossouw, fell at his hand.

"It was good because the ball spun up front and that's what made it a bit difficult for the batsmen," he said.

"It all depends on the wickets, I'm just going to go in and adapt my game: if it spins I'll try and keep it as simple as I can and if it's not spinning try and hold up an end."

Keeping things tight has not always been Moeen's trump card, but he concedes he is still learning as a bowler.

"I don't always do that very well but it's something I've been working on since I've been here and hopefully I can do that," he said.

"I felt the Pakistanis played me really well, they were the best I've ever bowled at. They never once let me settle and knocked me around, which was tough, but I felt like I learned so much from the UAE than I had done in the last couple of years before that."

South Africa A coach Vinny Barnes insisted his side represented the strongest available players outside the Test team, but felt let down by their tame showing.

"I'm disappointed and I let the players know that," he said.

"I would have liked to have seen one or two more put their hands up and put pressure on players in the Proteas set-up.

"I believe the next best players beneath the Proteas are in this XI, it is a concern to be knocked over in two and a half days."

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